Ethical Analysis of Baby Theresa
Baby Theresa is a very unique case. Theresa Ann Campo Pearson was an infant born in Florida 1992, with Anencephaly, which is where the two most important parts of the brain are missing, the cerebrum and cerebellum, as well as the top of the skull. Without these parts of the brain she would never have had higher brain functions or consciousness. However, there is still a brain stem connected so all the autonomic functions are still working, such as having a heart beat and breathing. Anencephaly is known as one of the worst congenital disorders, thus these cases are usually detected during pregnancy and aborted. If not aborted, half are stillborn or if born alive, they usually die within a few days. In Baby Theresa’s case, she died nine days after birth.
Even though, knowing that Baby Theresa would not live long and never have a conscious life, her parents requested that her organs would not go to waste, but instead be donated for transplants for other infants in need before Theresa’s natural death. In fact, even physicians agreed that was a good idea because over 2000 infants need transplants each year. Unfortunately, the state of Florida prohibits euthanasia and that the organs only be removed when natural death occurs. Eventually, within the nine days Baby Theresa organs decayed and were not used because the Circuit Court Judge Estella Moriarty ruled that a Florida statute does not allow a person to be declared dead while any part of the brain is functioning. The judge told the parents: “I can’t authorize someone to take your baby’s life, however short, however unsatisfying, to save another child.” Which brings me to my first ethical argument, “It’s wrong to kill”.
According to Immanuel Kant and his Kantian deontological theory, the principle of morality and our perfect duties, which one happens to be “it’s wrong to kill an innocent person”, comes from the categorical imperative. Kant states in the text on page 18...
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